Strengthen Your Core, for Athletic Power and More

The core, what’s all the talk about it and why is it so important?  If you want to improve your athletic performance or just perform everyday activities better, you’ll want to learn more about the power of these amazing muscles.

Basically, when one refers to the “core” they’re referring to a deeper abdominal muscle that lays below the “6-pack” muscles. This muscle, the TVA (for transverse abdominus) – is the most well known of the core muscles and is your very own natural built in weight lifting belt. A strong TVA helps support your spine and prevents low back pain.

Core muscles are actually more than just the TVA (transverse abdominus), for they include the oblique muscles and muscles of the back, pelvis and shoulder girdle. If you have weak core muscles, you’re more susceptible to injuries, low back pain, and your sports performance will suffer as well.

A strong core will put power and the “oomph” into your movements.

In sports like golf, tennis, and softball – you’ll be able to hit the ball further, faster, and harder. Strong core muscles also increase balance and stability. So what is the best exercise for golf, tennis, or softball? In my opinion, whatever the sport, the best exercise to do is core work – or simply just start with planks. In any sport, the common denominator is a need for a strong core.

One of the best core exercises requires no fitness equipment at all – the plank.

Lay flat on the floor, feet together, arms close to sides, elbows bent, and your hands underneath shoulder. Prop yourself up so your weight is on your elbows and forearms.  Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees with your elbows in line with your shoulders. Keep your back, hips, and legs in a straight line.  Do not let your hips drop and keep your abs tight (pull navel in towards spine). Try to hold the plank position for a minute (or as long as you can) and then repeat 3-5x. Planks can be done on a daily basis. Fitness equipment such as TRX straps (or similar), balance balls, medicine balls, BOSU trainers, and balance discs all offer great exercises to help strengthen these key muscles. With TRX straps for example, a lot of exercises have you suspended in a plank like position. All are excellent tools that can be used for a total body workout and strengthening core muscles.

It takes more than just working the core, as flexibility is just as important.

Tight shoulders, hips or back muscles won’t allow you to swing a golf club, bat or tennis racquet very well. Tight muscles won’t allow your muscles to work in their full range of motion and you’re more likely to injure yourself as well.

The best exercise for any sport is to train the core, and more – the more being stretching, and the more you do of both the better!